Memorial award honors alumnus and provides professional experience for landscape architecture students

Welch works with Matt Cosma '15 (LA), landscape designer at S/L/A/M
Welch works with Matt Cosma ’15 (LA), landscape designer at S/L/A/M

Tristan Welch, a senior majoring in landscape architecture in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, is the first recipient of the Kyle C. Slocum Memorial Award. The award grants an internship with the largest integrated design firm in the state, The S/L/A/M Collaborative, located in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Services include landscape architecture, architecture, structural engineering, interior design and construction services.

SLAM is a multi-disciplinary design firm headquartered in Glastonbury, Connecticut, with offices in Atlanta, Boston and Syracuse. The internship honors the contribution of UConn graduate Kyle Slocum, who is credited for growing the landscape architecture (LA) studio at SLAM. Slocum passed away in June of 2015, at the age of 50.

“Kyle Slocum was responsible for developing the strong landscape architecture presence at SLAM,” says John Alexopoulos, associate professor of landscape architecture. “He was able to develop an identity for landscape architecture within a traditional architecture firm. Kyle was a terrific student. He had this quiet demeanor, but a great sense of humor. He was a very likable person. It shows in his work. He was able to manage and get along with everyone.”

“Kyle was the first landscape architect to solidify the mission of the LA studio at SLAM,” says Daniel Granniss, SLAM LA Studio leader. “When the first studio leader left, he stepped in to keep the LA Studio at SLAM. He built it up, brick by brick. Kyle was one of the reasons I came here.”

The six-week internship provides a $3,000 stipend and offers a landscape architecture student the opportunity to receive real-work experience while working with respected professionals involved in numerous innovative projects.

“The mission of this internship is to train students in very strategic areas and take that knowledge back to the LA studio at UConn,” says Granniss. “We are able to give students field experience on high-end design projects, as well as exposure to cutting-edge technology.”

“It was both a privilege and an honor to have been awarded the Kyle Slocum Memorial Award,” says Welch. “I can’t express enough how welcomed I have felt throughout my entire internship experience. I want to thank everyone at the LA studio for creating such a pivotal experience in my very young career.”

“Tristan did so well that at the end of the six weeks, they kept him on and paid him throughout the remainder of the summer,” says Alexopoulos.

“Tristan was amazing,” Granniss remarks. “We selected him because of his high character, not just his portfolio. He is excited about being a mentor to other students.”

A number of Slocum’s colleagues at SLAM are also UConn graduates, including Granniss, Bill Cone, Julissa Mendez, Michael Rettenmeier, Matt Cosma and Megan Duva.

“Our landscape architecture program is one of those best-kept secrets in the College,” says Amy Chesmer, senior director of development for health sciences. “The program is so widely respected that our students go on to have opportunities at some of the best firms in the country. These types of opportunities created by alumni for current students are immeasurable in their value to the students’ education. We’re very appreciative when alumni are willing to provide such an opportunity.”

“The LA studio at SLAM has been very supportive to our students,” says Alexopoulos. “It’s a two-way street. The students are given an opportunity to learn, and the firm is able to contribute to the next generation of young professionals.”

The UConn Landscape Architecture program is nationally accredited by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board of the American Society of Landscape Architects. To become a licensed professional landscape architect, a student must earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program, apprentice for two years and then pass the national exam.

By Kim Colavito Markesich